Thursday, May 25, 2017

Artist Louis Raymond: Around The World From 80 Countries

In addition to all his professional accomplishments which I described in the last post, Louis C. Raymond was also a storyteller and self-taught painter. As a boy, he'd watched his father draw a complete picture without lifting his pencil from the paper.  Ina statement for an exhibition of Self-Taught Painters and Sculptors at SUNY Oswego, Raymond wrote. “One of my first attempts to make painting was after I bought from a “fire sale” a box filled with contorted and leaky artists' paint tubes that were all stuck together as a result of the heat from the fire.  These colors cost me thirty-five cents.  Without any training I set about to render a bird dog in action.  My first attempts won some approval.”

Later, “When I started to travel in different parts of the world, I couldn't resist sketching.  I would make sketches of things that would make an impression on me, send it home to my wife and the kids. When I got home on a rainy day I'd paint some of the scenes.” The Raymonds also used some of his sketches on their Christmas cards. 

The following is a self-portrait from 1976, showing Raymond sketching in the lunchroom of a underground mine, with his tools behind him.

Raymond not only painted scenes from is travels but also wrote about his experiences in the places he painted such as this account to accompany his painting titled “Diamonds in the Rainforest.”

Searching for diamonds and gold in and along the turbulent and muddy streams of the rainforest offers many unexpected experiences to the exploration crew.  A ride in a native bark-canoe is a sensation never to be forgotten wether [sic] the experience is amusing or tragic.  Sheets of bark pulled off a large native tree and roughly shaped and “sewed” at the ends makes a most treacherous craft to maneuver in swift waters.  Combine this with the endless numbers of toppled trees, submerged logs and limbs that clutter the streams, the traveler has all the thrills of a Coney Island chute-the-chute.  The “gringo’s” price of admission is almost sure to be a capsizing into the warm, brackish and silty waters.  A native riding alone down the current is stoically confident with swift dips of his crude paddle.  But with the “gringo” aboard his craft, he has a fiendish look of anticipation in his eyes.  If the warped canoe fails to go over or under or around the next log or snag, the gringo must be sure to come out of the water with a grin too; that is, if he wants to be accepted as passing the test and as a true companion of his guide.”

Raymond also donated a manuscript entitled Samples from 50 Years in the Mineral Industry which includes this selection describing British Guiana in 1947.
“The exploration site was reached by a six-week long difficult navigation up the flooded, muddy streams in a dugout canoe powered by a big outboard motor.  The dense forest growth shed endless uprooted trees into the streams....   

Rain, rain, rain, – always dripping through the thick rain forest cover, dim because of the lack of light, dismal from the wetness and the overpowering smell of decay.  The jungle trails were, I large part, swamp crossed with many swollen streams. The major rivers offered no simple passage for dugout canoes.  Twisting channels, shifting currents, fallen tress, and submerged logs....The rain forest was like a giant greenhouse, except that the traveler seldom could see the “windows” or the sky.  One seldom say birds or animals of the forest.  They either lived in the higher tree-tops near the sun light or were nocturnal creatures that crawled in the night.

Everywhere the traveler looked there was decay.  Even the rocks were buried at great depth under lays of decay, making it difficult to observe the geology.  Nor was it possible to escape the smell of day.  What a sentence it would be to have to spend a lifetime in this land of decay!...”

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

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